Personalities | Adele | 19

On 28 January 2008, Adele’s debut album 19 was released in the UK by XL Recordings (the name reflected her age at the time). By then, much hype had built up in the British press around the young singer. Within a week, the album hit No. 1 in the UK charts; it has since been certified four times platinum.

‘Chasing Pavements’ was released two weeks prior to the album going on sale and the track helped to further fuel already-mounting anticipation for the UK release.

Adele truly has potential to become among the most respected and inspiring international artists of her generation.’
Chuck Taylor in a Billboard review of 19

Altogether, the album features 12 tracks. Singles ‘Chasing Pavements’, ‘Cold Shoulder’, ‘Hometown Glory’ and the Bob Dylan cover, ‘Make You Feel My Love’ charted in both the US and the UK, though there was no No. 1 single. Adele has described the work as being ‘modern pop’ in style but it certainly has folk, jazz and soul influences. She wrote nine of the songs in a three-week period in May 2007, following the messy break-up with her cheating first love. ‘It was my first relationship,’ she told Cosmopolitan. ‘I was gutted.’ Yet, suddenly she had something to write about. Two years after its initial release, however, 19 would re-enter the UK charts at No. 4 – the week Adele’s second offering went on sale.

Critical Response

Not only did Adele’s debut do well commercially (by 2012 it had sold 7 million copies), she also won high praise from the majority of critics. The Encyclopedia of Modern Music called 19 an ‘essential’ blue-eyed soul recording, while The Guardian gave it five stars, proclaiming Adele ‘a rare singer’. People magazine also awarded the album top marks, describing Adele’s voice as ‘rich and supple, robust and sultry’. Meanwhile, BBC Music said many of her tracks made Lily Allen and Kate Nash ‘sound every bit as ordinary as they are’.

Yet the album wasn’t loved by all; some critics described Adele as a cheap Winehouse imitation who didn’t live up to the hype. ‘Despite the early indicators, there’s precious little on the album that prevents it from collapsing under the weight of its own expectation’ was NME’s take, whereas Entertainment Weekly gave it a B, opining her songs weren’t as ‘sharp’ as Duffy’s. Meanwhile, a key person likely to have something to say about the album – the ex who had inspired it – somehow managed to remain silent and anonymous.

Make You Feel My Love

Despite the ferocious three-week burst of songwriting for 19 and the raw emotional experience fuelling it, Adele says she ‘never really got down what I was feeling’ on the tracks. ‘It wasn’t that I was holding back or anything, but I just couldn’t get it down. I was bitterly upset,’ she explains. Salvation came when her manager Jonathan Dickins sat her down and played her...

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Source: Adele: Songbird, by Alice Hudson


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